Burkhardt Arithmometer

This German stepped drum, manually operated, non-printing calculating machine has a brass top painted black and a brass and steel mechanism that fit snugly in a wooden case. Ten German silver levers are moved to set numbers. The operating crank is right of the levers, and an addition & multiplication / subtraction & division lever is to their left. The operating crank folds down so that the lid closes. At the left is a compartment with a slate cover that holds a key and a small box of spare parts. The machine has space for an inkwell, but no inkwell is present.
Behind the levers is a carriage with a ten-window revolution register and a 20-window result register. Both registers have thumbscrews for setting numbers. Each window of the revolution register shows the digits from 0 to 9 in black and from 1 to 8 in red. A knob on the right side of the machine clears the revolution register and another knob on the left side clears the result register. When these knobs are in use, brass bars extend out the sides of the carriage. Holes for decimal markers are between the levers and between the windows of the registers, but the machine has no decimal markers. A bell sounds when the crank has been turned too often in subtraction so that a negative number results. It is intended especially for use in division.
Instructions for operating the machine are glued to the inside of the lid. A piece of wood hinged to the back of the machine allows it to be held at an angle. One may slide over a panel in the bottom of the case to reveal the stepped drums. A key fits the lock in the case.
A mark on the top of the lid and on the center front of the machine reads: BURKHARDT (/) ARITHMOMETER. Another mark on the center front reads: Keuffel & Esser Co. (/) New York (/) Sole Agents. A mark to the left of this reads: GERMANY. The zeroing knobs on the carriage have the patent number: D.R.G.M. No78251. The National Bureau of Standards inventory number stamped on the right edge of the case is 1624 N.B.S. The back right edge of the carriage is marked: 5. This is the usual location of serial numbers for Burkhardt arithmometers, but does not jibe well with other serial numbers of machines in the collections.
Compare MA*313158, MA*313519, MA*323624 and MA*323597.
The date of 1903 is assigned on the basis of the accession file.
Keuffel & Esser, Catalog, 1899, p. 190. Here Burkhardt machines are offered in 3 sizes (6x7x12, 8x9x16 & 10x11x20) at three prices ($193.25, $241.50, $338.25). This machine is the third type. The machine is not shown in the 1892 Keuffel & Esser catalog. By 1906, K&E was selling the Peerless calculating machine instead.
Accession file.
Currently not on view
Object Name
calculating machine
date made
Erste Glashütter Rechenmaschininfabrik
Keuffel & Esser Co.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
german silver (overall material)
slate (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 10.5 cm x 71.2 cm x 21 cm; 4 1/8 in x 28 1/32 in x 8 9/32 in
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Glashütte
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
maker number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Calculating Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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